CAPACITY BUILDING

Grain Management Rounds Up US$3.75 Billion For Spectrum, Telecom Investments

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By Kelly Hill

Telecom-focused private equity company Grain Management says it has closed on US$3.75 billion in funding in the past year, exceeding its targets for purchases of spectrum and other investments.

Grain, founded in 2007, specializes in telecom infrastructure investments including fiber networks, wireless spectrum and cell towers. Its C Band bidding vehicle, NewLevel II, bid the fifth-highest amount in the C Band spectrum auction: US$1.277 billion for 10 licenses in 10 Partial Economic Areas across the country. The US$3.75 billion announced today included US$1.5 billion in funding that Grain closed on last September — prior to the auction — through its spectrum-focused investment vehicle, Grain Spectrum Holdings III, order to fund that purchase. Grain had hoped to raise US$1 billion with that fund and ended up raising US$1.5 billion.

In addition, Grain said that its new Grain Communications Opportunity Fund III (GCOF III) has closed with US$2.25 billion in commitments, well over its target of US$1.5 billion. That funding “allows Grain to continue its exclusive focus on opportunities in mission-critical communications assets, both US domestic and abroad, and equity investments in companies that own and operate them,” the company said.

Grain said that both funds “attracted excess demand driven by strong, early support from existing limited partners and significant interest from new investors on a global scale.”

Besides C Band spectrum, some of the company’s investments have included acquisitions of telecom operators. Grain backs the privately-owned telecom service provider Great Plains Communications of Nebraska, and helped Great Plains acquire two other network operators over the past two years, including ETC in southeastern Indiana in 2020 and InterCarrier Networks in 2019. Great Plains has a 13,000-mile private fiber network that operates in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota and Wyoming.

“We are thrilled to announce the closings and proud to have built a global investor base of blue-chip institutional partners during unprecedented times,” said founder and CEO of Grain Management, David Grain. “Deploying this capital in continuation of our flagship strategy allows us to deliver value on behalf of these well-regarded investors. Moreover, we are pleased at our success in the recently concluded C-Band Auction.”

Grain is a former AT&T executive who has advocated for broadband expansion.

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